The Christmas season is fast approaching and promotion of Santa, sleigh bells and Deck the Halls is upon us like the 'Blizzard of 1942'. I don't actually know if there was a blizzard in 1942 but if there was, I'm sure the town was in chaos. Imagine a time in Bend without snowplows running all through the night and chemical ice melt on the roads to ruin your car. Unthinkable.
No doubt you've been pondering what to buy those loved ones (and maybe not-so-loved ones) for Christmas. The budget is probably tighter than years past and even so, not just any old gift will do. If you want to know what NOT to get that special someone, please visit the blog of my good friend Bo. For those of you who want to give that beautifully wrapped present with a magnificent bow atop, here are some ideas for you and best of all, they're free. FREE.
The Gift of Patience.
Holidays can be a crazy time with people rushing frantically around like a great mob of lemmings that push, claw, scurry and crawl their way over each other just to jump off of a cliff into the sea. It's senseless. When it's the half-price sock sale in Freddie's the day after Thanksgiving, instead of tossing people aside to get to the box of socks try extending a little patience and throw out a smile to those around you. There are enough socks for everyone. When the kids are whiny and tired and you still have a million things to do to prepare for the in-laws visit, take a deep breath and extend a little patience. Maybe they just want some of your time. Cherish it. When the turkey comes out undercooked and the potatoes boil over, the gravy turns out lumpy and the oyster stuffing stinks up the whole house, when your spouse asks if they can do anything to help, remember, they just want to help. Pour yourself a lovely glass of Merlot, take a deep breath and extend some patience to those around you. It's really not about the meal but time spent together. (Just have a backup plan. And good wine.)
The Gift of Forgiveness
It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, hurrying to-and-fro and worrying about what to get the kids. But what if you took the time this Christmas to extend the gift of grace to someone who needs your forgiveness. Not only are you giving the incredible gift of freeing someone from the bitterness with which you hold on to them, but you are receiving the gift of freeing yourself from the hold bitterness has on you. What if you picked up the phone and called that mom or dad that you haven't spoken to in years because as a child they did something that hurt you and you've been carrying that around in your heart ever since. What if hearing you say, 'I forgive you and love you' is what frees them from the guilt of not being the parent they thought you deserved. Maybe it's a son or daughter that has taken the wrong path and burned you in the process. What if your words of 'I forgive you and love you,' are going to be the turning point in their lives that puts them on the right path. Maybe it's a spouse, ex-spouse, friend or family member who has prayed so desperately for you to reach out in grace and forgiveness. What if your forgiveness changes their lives. What if it changes your life. The gift of forgiveness is priceless for the giver and receiver. What if.
The Gift of Compassion
There are a lot of hurting people in the world that could use some compassion and you are the one that can give that to them. Maybe it's the exhausted and frazzled mother behind you in the checkout line with three little children that just needs a friendly smile and some simple conversation. What if you picked up an extra meal in the drive through and gave it to that homeless man or woman holding the sign on the corner. It's easy to say they should go get a job, but you don't know their story and that one kind gesture of compassion eases their struggle just-that-much. What if you volunteered to serve a Christmas meal to the hungry and touch just one life by caring enough to do that. Maybe it's taking a name off of the Tree of Joy and buying a gift for a child that otherwise won't receive any. You may not see the excitement in their face on Christmas morning but your compassion will reaffirm to the family that there is goodness and generosity in people they don't know. Amazing.
The Gift of Love
Love is an incredibly precious treasure that we could use more of and I think the Beatles were on to something when they sang 'all you need is love'. Loving others gives them hope, faith in something good and perhaps perseverance to get through whatever trial they may be facing. What if you throw caution to the wind this Christmas season and spread the gift of love to people with reckless abandon. Maybe you don't tell your spouse or kids everyday you love them because 'they just know. But what if everyday you were to put your arms around them, look them in they eye and say those three words of magnificence 'I love you'. Hearts would be melted! Maybe you know of someone who has fallen on hard times and doesn't have enough money to pay the electric bill or food to feed their family. What if out of love you made sure their house was going to be warm for one more month and their children were going to have food in their bellies. That would give them hope. Maybe you have a co-worker who is going through a hard time and giving them ten minutes out of your day to just listen and be there for them is the little bit of love they need to make it to the next day. That would be truly selfless. Maybe you know someone who is hard to love but it's because they have endured things in their lives and they feel unlovable. Maybe you reaching out to them in love will be what helps to restore their broken heart. That would be incredible indeed!
What else could others use more of that we can freely give? Challenge yourself this holiday season to give more 'free' gifts and see what happens in your own heart. You may be pleasantly surprised!